The Best Acne Medications (2021 Reviews)

Vanessa Manning
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If you’ve got acne, you’re not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, around 50 million Americans suffer from this condition that occurs when your pores become clogged with bacteria and sebum oil that promotes the growth of pimples, zits, and whiteheads.

If you’ve ever wondered how to go about treating your acne, should you use natural treatments or go straight to taking prescription medication? What’s the best acne medication out there on the market today?

NameCategoryProduct
Acne Treatment Facial Cleansing PadsBest OverallAcne Treatment Facial Cleansing Pads
Acne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot TreatmentBudget PickAcne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment
Adapalene GelUpgrade PickAdapalene Gel

1. Acne Treatment Facial Cleansing Pads

Our rating: 9 / 10

Acne Treatment Facial Cleansing Pads

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Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Great smelling; smells like grapefruits and cranberries
  • Quickly cleared up my acne in 3 treatments; one day made my skin completely clear.
  • Only have to use these once at night before bed, easy to fit into a routine.
  • Skin feels clean and is not irritated after use.
  • Two pads do the job of 5, so 90 pads go a long way.
  • Easy to use. Make sure and wet your face before using the pads.
  • DID NOT cause any irritation or infections.

Cons:

  • Did not completely get rid of all of my acne.
  • Expensive.

2. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Face Pads

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Face Pads

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Pros:

  • Non-irritating formula
  • Absorbs oil from skin
  • Easy-to-use
  • Can be used 24/7
  • Convenient, disposable pads
  • Affordable price
  • Proven acne treatment

Cons:

  • Slightly drying
  • Can cause peeling and flaking if not used correctly
  • Say goodbye to acne

If you are tired of walking around with redness and discomfort on your face and are ready to find solutions that help get rid of acne bumps, redness, and irritation, these salicylic acid acne pads from Neutrogena are a great way to get started. Many people are very satisfied with the results.

Neutrogena’s acne pads are pre-soaked with a proven acne-fighting formula that helps reduce acne irritants and deeply cleans the skin to give you an acne-free complexion. Neutrogena’s rapid clear technology helps clear up your face and skin in less than seven days.

The hypoallergenic pads are free of dyes and fragrance so that they are kind to the skin. Because they are free of harsh ingredients, you can use them 24 hours a day without worrying about side effects.

3. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel

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Pros:

  • It’s got one of the highest concentrations of BP available OTC
  • Weighs in at 1 oz. for minimal pricing
  • Apply a tiny amount to each pimple
  • It starts working in 4 hours

This benzoyl peroxide product for the face or body is just one example of the hundreds of different acne medicines available on the Internet.

4. Neutralyze Exfoliating Pads

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neutralyze Exfoliating Pads

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Acne treatment is one of the most important things if you suffer from acne. There are many products on the market, but there are also many bad products out there, as well. So we made a list of the best acne treatments. Take a look at the products we found below.

Neutralyze is a great option for people who want to get rid of acne on their face quickly. This product is affordable, and it can treat all kinds of acne, so it can be an easy replacement to weekly facials.

The main ingredient in this product is 2% Salicylic Acid, which is a very potent ingredient for acne treatment. You don’t need a facial to get rid of acne anymore, so you can save your money and use this product at home and you won’t even regret it.

5. Acne Treatment Differin Gel

Our rating: 9 / 10

Acne Treatment Differin Gel

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Pros:

  • Lightens acne scars
  • Minimizes blemishes, wrinkles
  • Promotes skin renewal
  • Decreases acne inflammation

Cons:

  • Causes excess redness in acne prone skin
  • Takes time to work (6-8 weeks)

Made in USA.

When it comes to the battle against acne, having the right medication is as important as eating the right diet and drinking lots of water. You want to work with a product that will reduce acne inflammation, not exacerbate it.

One of the best acne medications you can use that will decrease inflammation is Differin. It’s one of the most popular acne treatments available with an extremely high customer satisfaction rate.

6. Stridex Medicated Acne Pads

Our rating: 8 / 10

Stridex Medicated Acne Pads

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The Stridex Medicated Acne Pads are the best over the counter acne medication I’ve found so far. I’ve been using them for years and they’ve never let me down.

The main ingredient is 2.5% salicylic acid, which is a good mix because it’s strong enough for more severe blemishes and doesn’t dry out the skin. The pads are clear instead of red (they’re made out of white petrolatum) so you can apply makeup over them.

Stridex has versions for sensitive, oily, and combination skin. In my experience though, they work equally well for each type of skin, so just ask your local drugstore associate to recommend a version for you.

7. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Our rating: 8 / 10

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

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Pros:

  • Medical-strength topical retinoid
  • Made for oily and combination skin conditions
  • Also contains hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid
  • No preservatives
  • Fast-acting acne medication
  • Fragrance-free
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Gives your skin a healthy, natural glow

Cons:

  • Need a prescription
  • A bit pricey
  • Only available via doctor’s prescription

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, Prescription-Strength Topical Retinoid For Face, 45g is one of the best acne treatment products you can find anywhere.

It is a topical retinoid gel that was developed by La Roche Posay for oily and combination skin types affected by acne and blackheads. Normal skin types can use, but the products isn’t for them.

The best thing about La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, Prescription-Strength Topical Retinoid For Face, 45g is that it eliminates acne fast without drying out your skin. It has no preservatives in it, giving it a clean feel when you apply it to your skin that is light-weight and feels like nothing.

8. Acne Treatment Natural Cream

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acne Treatment Natural Cream

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Pros:

  • It is No.1 top seller on Amazon, more than 10,000 hits on this product – acne cream
  • It has great reviews, 5 stars for this cream in curing acne
  • It is made in USA
  • It is mild and gentle, 100% pure
  • It does not contain paraben, artificial color or fragrance
  • It boosts collagen production
  • It is also designed to reduce scars and acne marks on face

9. Acne Free Adapalene Gel 0.1%

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acne Free Adapalene Gel 0.1%

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Pros:

  • No prescription needed
  • Safe for all skin types
  • Easy to apply
  • Dries acne-causing bacteria on the skin quickly
  • It is great for those who have large areas of breakouts
  • It is perfect for home use
  • It is toxin-free and paraben-free
  • It is good for sensitive skin
  • It shows results after just a week of use
  • It may clear existing acne and prevent future breakouts

Cons:

  • It has to be applied regularly
  • It can dry your skin
  • It can cause redness and burning
  • It might cause new pimples to appear as part of the healing process
  • It can take few weeks to see the full effect

10. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Gel Cream Moisturizer

Our rating: 8 / 10

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Gel Cream Moisturizer

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(50 ml)

If you have adult acne that’s starting to show on your face, neck, chest or back, you’re probably looking for the best acne creams. Keep in mind that not every spot treatment, “ acne product, or skin care regimen is designed to treat acne on any part of your body.

Acne is the result of inflamed pores. Dark spots, pustules, scabs, and scars are all skin tissues that were injured as a result of acne. Finding a lotion that deals effectively with pimples on the body can take some time and testing.

11. Acne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment

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Pros:

  • Gives quick relief
  • One of the best over the counter acne treatments
  • Easy to use
  • 1 oz. is a lot of product, great value for price
  • Available in stores

Cons:

  • Not available online
  • Difficult to reapply

The Acne Free Terminator is my top pick when it comes to OTC acne medications.

It is one of the top rated acne spot treatments that fight and eliminate severe acne breakouts. It’s fast-acting and works in only 2 to 4 hours.

It contains benzoyl peroxide, a powerful acne medication that is effective on the bacteria that causes acne. I’ve tried Benzoyl peroxide myself and it definitely works.

12. Vitamin C Serum Plus 2% Retinol

Our rating: 8 / 10

Vitamin C Serum Plus 2% Retinol

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Pros:

  • The Most Popular Acne-Fighting Solution
  • Non-greasy formula
  • Reduces the appearance of scars and redness

Cons:

  • Can dry out the skin
  • Not enough vitamin C for some users

Meticulous care is required for your skin these days. You have to protect it from pollution, bacteria and staphylococcus aureus, which can wreak havoc on your complexion. A helpful solution to encourage a healthy complexion and discourage acne and other skin problems is the Vitamin C Serum Plus.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals, which form when the skin is exposed to too much UV radiation, such as during a trip to the beach or the office. The serum’s active ingredients are designed to reverse damage caused by the sun, and its non-greasy formula and soothing ingredients minimize inflammation and further the healing process.

Reviewers with sensitive skin reported that the serum did not irritate their complexions, and those who suffer from acne-related redness stated it decreased the appearance of breakouts. This serum has a lot of strong, positive reviews. Most of the users who have used it have reported improvement and love it.

13. DRMTLGY Acne Spot Treatment and Cystic Acne Treatment. Acne Serum

Our rating: 8 / 10

DRMTLGY Acne Spot Treatment and Cystic Acne Treatment. Acne Serum

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Pros:

  • Very fast shipping
  • It works very well with acne-prone skin
  • It moisturizes and hydrates the skin
  • It clears off acne and reduces inflammation very quickly
  • It has a nice smell

Cons:

  • It doesn’t contain any sunscreens
  • It’s a bit sticky on the skin
  • Some people experience skin irritation

It's difficult to say that one acne medication is the best out there when every brand and formula can be so different depending on the user, but Dr. T’s Pore Therapy Acne Spot Treatment is a great option if you’re looking for a spot treatment for acne.

14. DOUBLE SIZED

Our rating: 8 / 10

DOUBLE SIZED

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Pros:

  • Contains vitamin C
  • Includes hyaluronic acid
  • Cruelty-free, vegan, and dermatologist recommended

Vitamin C is an important part of any skincare routine. It is essential for collagen production (which keeps your skin firm and prevents it from sagging). Vitamin C is also responsible for giving your skin a natural glow. Because of this, many skincare products contain vitamin C for these reasons.

The difference with this vitamin C serum lies in its ingredients. Pure vitamin C serums contain either L-AA or Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. The former is better absorbed, while the latter has a longer shelf life, but isn’t as effective.

You’ll find both in this serum. It’s L-AA that will really fight your acne, but the ethyl ascorbic acid is important for giving it a longer shelf life.

15. Replenix Acne Solutions Benzoyl Peroxide Gel Spot Treatment

Our rating: 8 / 10

Replenix Acne Solutions Benzoyl Peroxide Gel Spot Treatment

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Pros:

  • Benzoyl peroxide fights acne-causing bacteria
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Affordable price
  • No burning or stinging sensations
  • Formulated for sensitive skin

Cons:

  • Relatively drying
  • Only has a 5 percent concentration

(2.5-Ounce

The Replenix Acne Solutions Benzoyl Peroxide Gel is a top pick for people who have fair or sensitive skin because it's not drying and contains no harsh fragrant chemicals.

It's a benzoyl peroxide-based treatment gel that is super affordable and has been scientifically tested and proven to fight acne-causing bacteria. It's a light-weight gel, so it absorbs quickly and deeply to attack acne-causing bacteria.

16. IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Medicated Acne Lotion

Our rating: 8 / 10

IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Medicated Acne Lotion

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17. Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Our rating: 8 / 10

Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum

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Pros:

  • Reduces Age Spots and Sun Damage
  • Boosts Collagen Production
  • Reduces the Appearance of Scars

Cons:

  • Difficult to Treat Acne Scars & Wrinkles
  • Needs to be Purchased from the Manufacturer

This Cosmedica skincare product was designed to hydrate the skin with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in our bodies. As we age, or we go through the stresses of daily life, the acid secretion in our bodies decreases.

This serum was designed to help with the doldrums of aging, which is why you will notice it is sold mostly to women past menopause who want to stop or slow down the effects of aging.

It is surprisingly simple to use and is quite affordable. All you have to do is apply it to your face with a cotton swab, morning and night.

18. Acnetame- Vitamin Supplements

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acnetame- Vitamin Supplements

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Pros:

  • * Made with natural ingredients

For Acne Prevention, Made with Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Biotin.

This is a great acne treatment product that is made with vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D and biotin pills.

Acne is a condition that is caused by toxins and bacteria in your body. Acne can be caused by poor diet, internal toxicity, gastrointestinal problems, and hormone imbalances.

19. Acne Treatment Serum

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acne Treatment Serum

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Looking for the best skincare products for acne prone skin? Here’s one of the most effective, natural and convenient products to keep your skin glowing and acne-free. The acne treatment serum for oily skin contains potent skin-clearing ingredients. It also helps with the early signs of aging, dark spots and other issues while helping to reduce the appearance of scars from old acne breakouts. The ingredients contained in this solution are powerful and pure to get rid of acne scars and blemishes. Although the biggest issue most people face is acne prone skin, they also find aging and anti-aging solutions to be equally important. Using this product can help you achieve a youthful appearance without having to make any significant changes to the products you currently use.

20. Adapalene Gel

Our rating: 8 / 10

Adapalene Gel

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Pros:

  • Acne is reduced with regular use
  • A different pH level from other retinoids

Cons:

  • Can cause redness and mild skin irritation
  • Not as strong as other treatments

The 0.1% topical solution in the Galderma Laboratories Adapalene Gel is particularly effective for treating severe acne that originates on the face or chest. It is typically prescribed for those whose acne can’t be treated by the use of over-the-counter acne medications, especially for those whose acne is caused by hormonal factors like pimple scars.

21. Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Face Cream

Our rating: 8 / 10

Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Face Cream

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Pros:

  • Combines all the benefits of tea tree oil with powerful anti-acne ingredients
  • Antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory
  • Very versatile
  • Can help calm and soothe your skin
  • Can help prevent acne from forming
  • Can help minimize the appearance of dark spots
  • Great for combination skin
  • Doesn’t cause acne
  • Perfect for all skin types
  • Can also be used on other parts of your body (not just your face)

Cons:

  • Might not work for everyone
  • The fragrance might be a little strong for some
  • A small amount is required, so it might be difficult to get enough product out of the bottle

Absorbine Jr. Medicated Be Happy Advanced Therapy Acne Treatment is a two-step pimple fighter made especially for teenage and adult acne.

If you read a lot of the customer reviews for this product, you will find that many people were dealing with recurring blemishes on their face. Acne can be extremely embarrassing and cause you stress at any age, but it can be especially tough to deal with when you’re a teenager.

22. Acne Treatment Cream

Our rating: 8 / 10

Acne Treatment Cream

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Pros:

  • Made in the U.S.A. is an added bonus
  • Removed the pain and itchiness of acne
  • Made my skin smooth and soft

Cons:

  • More expensive than over-the-counter products
  • It takes a while to see results

I tried many acne fighting products, from home remedies to dermatologist-tested treatments; only a few of the products worked. I’m already on the fourth day of using this product, and I can’t believe how my face has cleared up.

One night before going to bed I applied a layer of the cream as a spot treatment. And I woke up to find my pimples on the left side of my face almost gone.

I also had an active acne on my forehead for about two weeks, and it has shrunk considerably.

23. Keeva Organics TEA TREE OIL Acne Treatment Cream

Our rating: 7 / 10

Keeva Organics TEA TREE OIL Acne Treatment Cream

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Pros:

  • 100% All Natural
  • Clinically proven
  • Real tea tree oil
  • Includes essential oils
  • SPF 30 sunblock
  • Unique blend of vitamins and natural ingredients
  • Doesn’t leave skin feeling dry
  • Long-lasting results
  • No "acne-fighting" chemicals
  • Reduces dry skin

Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream is one of the best acne medications you can find online.

It has been clinically proven to reduce acne, pimples, and blackheads. It works so well that it even comes with a "money back guaranteed results."

Keeva Oil is 100% all natural and doesn't contain any parabens, sulphates, fragrances, or artificial colours. It uses a unique blend of vitamins and natural ingredients to make your skin feel hydrated and healthy.

24. Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Treatment Kit

Our rating: 6 / 10

Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Treatment Kit

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Pros:

  • 3-in-1 acne treatment with cleanser, toner, lotion and gel.
  • Clinically proven to work after 2 weeks.
  • Tested as safe and effective for all skin types.
  • Unbiased reviews on Amazon.
  • 24 hour acne solution!

Cons:

  • Some acne and blemish sufferers need to use the product for up to 4 weeks to see results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best acne treatment 2021?

If you’re having a problem with acne it’s important to understand the root of the problem and what you can do about it. While some medical professionals claim that it all boils down to genetics, there are many specific things you can do to clear up your skin.

There are three common causes of acne:

  • A hormonal imbalance
  • An allergic reaction
  • Using acne treatments that make it worse

Cause number one is often a hormonal imbalance in teenagers; as your body approaches adulthood, your brain transitions into your final stage of development and your hormones regulate themselves. But, sometimes this doesn’t happen so easily and teens suffer from acne because their hormones are out of whack.

What is the most effective acne medication?

All acne medications work to decrease sebum production and prevent skin pores from getting clogged. The most effective acne medications will have several medications in them. Some basic ingredients in prescription acne medications include tretinoin, benzoyl peroxide (BPO), and adapalene.

What is the best acne medication over the counter?

The best acne medication is a prescription from your doctor. If you only have a few blemishes, then it’s likely you don’t need to get that prescription. You can generally find an acne treatment with similar ingredients in a less powerful formula.

Avoid confusing acne treatment products with acne prevention products. Acne treatment products are meant to be used when you DO have acne. Prevention products are meant to be used when you suspect you’ll get acne.

Acne treatments come in many different forms including liquids, gels, creams, and lotions. Some work better than others for certain types of acne, but all of them should help to lighten your blemishes, decrease redness, and increase the skin’s ability to exfoliate.

Conclusion

Acne is an incredibly common condition that affects millions of people in every part of the world. The good news is that there are so many different treatment options available. Some of these represent a medical treatment administered by a doctor or dermatologist. Others are more conservative treatment options such as acne medication. There’s no single best acne medication, but the trick is to find the acne pimples medication that works best for you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Acne Treatment Facial Cleansing PadsBest OverallAcne Treatment Facial Cleansing Pads
Acne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot TreatmentBudget PickAcne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment
Adapalene GelUpgrade PickAdapalene Gel